With the yachting industry effectively on hold due to the pandemic, it goes without saying that everyone is holding their breath to see how political and economic leaders are going to develop a coherent strategy to bring life back to near normality. For most crew planning on working during the upcoming season, the hope is that the industry can get back into operation sooner rather than later.
Whilst we were unable to provide definite answers on how and when the industry will return to activity (with the specific intention not to spread speculation), we were able to look at how the pandemic has currently affected the start of the season as a means to anticipate how this might impact crew in the months ahead.
To help give us some insight, we included Louise Overend from YPI Crew (Interior Recruitment) and Fiona Maureso from Northrop & Johnson (Senior Charter Broker) on our panel to hear how they are currently being affected. Here are some of the key questions that were answered by our panel:
When is the season likely to start?
Whilst it’s too early to tell for certain, when and how the season will officially kick-off, what we all know is that the start of the season has definitely been delayed by confinement regulations within Europe and the closure of EU borders.
Many vessels undergo essential maintenance work in shipyards before the start of a new season, so many boats might still be stuck in shipyards waiting for this work to be completed. In addition, crew usually take this time to complete important preparation tasks onboard to ensure vessels are fully stocked and have all the essential supplies needed for the season ahead.
All of this preparation work has certainly been delayed under the lockdown restrictions, so it’s important to note that when restrictions are lifted, it might still take a couple of weeks for vessels to start cruising.
When will yachts start hiring for the season?
Many vessels usually start hiring crew as early as March, but lockdown measures have pushed this back and we are not likely to see a dramatic increase in recruitment activity until these restrictions have been eased. Major Mediterranean yachting locations, such as France, Spain and Italy are all set to start easing restrictions from the beginning to mid-May, so we might start to see activity increasing from this point. However, this is uncertain and will largely depend on the de-confinement regulations announced by officials.
In addition, the closure of EU borders has prevented many yacht owners and charter guests from travelling to vessels, so until borders have been fully re-opened, the industry might see a delay in activity.
Will the cancellation/postponement of events affect the number of boats looking for crew this season?
Many high-profile events running at the beginning of the season, which usually have a good attendance from the yachting community, have been cancelled.
Some of the cancelled events include:
- Palma boat show - cancelled
- Cannes film festival - cancelled (to be held online)
- Monaco Grand Prix - cancelled
- Cannes Lions Festival - cancelled
- MYBA Charter Show - cancelled
However, the events that are scheduled for later in the season (e.g. Monaco Yacht Show, Cannes Boat Show) are still set to run, so we should still see an increased demand for crew around this period.
Have charter bookings been affected by the pandemic?
During our webinar last week, Fiona Maureso from Northrop & Johnson stated that their bookings for the beginning of the season had been impacted by the pandemic. However, the busiest months for charters are usually July - September, so they’re hoping to have a boost in activity for the second half of the season, although this will very much depend on the travel regulations at the time and the full opening of EU borders.
Looking forward, we’ll have to wait and see what regulations will be put in place post-lockdown and how this will affect the way the yachting industry operates.
What is certain, is that there will be an eventual return to active yachting, however, without a definite end in sight to the spread of the virus, crew will need to be prepared to work under the health and safety constraints imposed by local governments.
The PYA will strive to provide continuous guidance and information to members as and when we receive important information from colleagues working in regulation, other yachting organisations and from reliable sources in the industry.
Join our upcoming webinar for the latest updates and regulations affecting crew and the season ahead.